We left my dads fairly early on Saturday morning, and headed for the coast. We stopped at a Harvester on the way down for some lunch. It was tasty, and the service was very good. Here is Oliver posing as an artist.
We had plans to meet some friends at the Flying Fortress, a soft play area in Ford. Oliver had his 6th birthday party there. Typically it was raining. That did not stop many of our friends coming out. It was so nice to catch up with Laura and Daniel, Philippa with Russell and Michael, Claire and Jack, Jane and Brandon, Emma and Connor, and Angela with Aaron, Kieran and baby Tate. So adorable, nothing like a new born.... Paul disappeared for an hour to drive some Rolls Royce's, leaving me on my own with the monkeys, never easy, especially when I wanted to catch up with my friends. I still managed it, and we were one of the last left in the Flying Fortress.
We left and travelled towards Arundel to check into our hotel. We had booked at room at Premier Inn at Crossbush for under 40 quid. A bargain for a family room. It is located next to a Beefeater, where we had planned to meet some more friends for some drinks. We headed in at 6pm, found a good seat by the bar and ordered some more food. We very rarely eat out twice in one day, so we ordered the boys a meal each, and we had some nachos to share. The whole thing was very tasty, the service was prompt and accommodating. Once we had finished eating, we gave the boys their various devices, and awaited our friends. It was so lovely for me to catch up with Faye and Laura. The whole time I spent with my friends felt like I had never been away. Paul's friends turned up a little later. Again, it was great to catch up with them.
We left the bar about 9.15pm, with 3 tired and wired boys, and attempted to get them to sleep. Thanks to the bribery of a prize, Oliver and Isaac fell asleep quite early, with Seb not far behind. Paul and I sat up, drank more beer, and played monopoly on my pad.
We went back to the Beefeater for breakfast. Apart from the staff messing up our bill, all went smoothly. The boys ate free, and really pigged out on croissants, fruit, toast and yogurts. Paul and I had big fry ups, with plenty of coffee, and the whole thing came to 16 pounds.
Again, we had planned to meet friends on the seafront for a morning stroll, and we certainly got the weather for it. There were 6 boys in all, and they all had a great time. Here they are on the beach
Here are Oliver, Isaac and Daniel on the longest bench.
We strolled down to Lions Den park, where they all played so beautifully together. On the walk back towards the car, we bumped into Debbie and Sandra. So nice to unexpectedly see these lovely people, and have a very brief catch up. Beautiful to see all the children are doing so well.
We left our friends and headed into the smoke. We had initially arranged to meet Paul's sister on the Monday, then his brother said he was about on the Sunday and suggested Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, so we went with this. Then Paul's parents said they would also be joining us. On the way in, we received messages from all of them, canceling. We were on our own in the big city....
We drove in through the south, passing Harrods
We had initially intended on doing an open top bus tour. By the time we had parked, walked through Winter Wonderland (won't be doing that again....) and found the Open topped bus tour stop, it was nearly 4pm. When we discovered that the tours last at least 2 hours, and are more hop on/hop off things, we changed our mind. We grabbed a route map, and decided to head off on our own. We headed out of the car park (right under Hyde Park, off Park Lane, where they store the cars for the showrooms opposite) paying the 10 quid, and joining the traffic. Luckily for us, the boys only really wanted to see Big Ben. We headed in that general direction.
First we passed Westminister Abbey
By now we were well in to twilight, which made the sights look beautiful. I have never really seen them at this time, and they were so pretty. We drove past Big Ben, over the river, and came back over Westminister Bridge. Here i got great photos of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliment
We drove out of London to the west, passing Battersea power station. It was nice to see this before it get developed into houses and commercial areas.
It didn't take long to get out of London to my dads. Luckily for us, the boys did not sleep on this journey. Something about the lights seems to keep them well stimulated and awake. We stopped for a McDonald's before heading back to my dads for a night of rest.